I have an unsettled feeling, one caused by faithlessness, that my life will soon radically change. I wish I knew how, where and when this change will occur, but don’t.
The decks are being cleared. Father will die relatively soon, as you know. I will be faithful to him until the end. My oldest son, with whom I am very close, has a business he started a couple years ago that has just turned the corner from being a small to a objectively medium-sized business. It’s a success! So he’s got his own life and though I love him dearly, I don’t see him playing much of a role in my future, mostly because he’s busy and rightly has his own life.
So, suddenly, I’ll have time and the wherewithal to pursue … what?
There’s a difficult concept which many Christians live by, one that makes little sense to seculars and outsiders, that to for me to find myself or to find the direction of my life path, I must first die to my own pursuits and hopes. The mental image I have is of a child jumping off the side of the pool into her parents arms, totally trusting but still endangered. If the parent didn’t catch the child, or blithely looked away, the kid would drown. So, that child’s implicit deep trust in the goodness and good intention of her parents, undergirds the sort of thinking that would permit a child to jump.
Christians, in essence, are called to jump like this, not knowing how deep it is the pool or even the purpose of the jump. All that can be known concerns the character of God and a deep belief He’ll sustain the jumping Christian, not look away. This degree of faith is difficult, at least for me. It demands that I stand on the side of my life for a time, reach the end of a season or calling, and then jump into the unknown.
This is what I’m soon to do. I plan to jump. I don’t know where. I don’t know why. I have no clear vision or reason to jump. I don’t even understand why I’m going to do it. I know, however, that I have no boundaries. No fencing. No vision of a path in front of me. I’m just going to jump.
Frankly, this frightens me even though I’m an inveterate risk-taker.
There seems to be a time of life or an age when I’m expected to consolidate into bland pleasantries, a time when I’m supposed to reap the good things that I’ve sown for decades, a time of success and seeing the fruit of my labor, including my painfully slow character development — I’m at that time. But I’m not consolidating. Rather, I’m expanding. I’m so desperate to live a meaning-filled life, that I’m actually riskier than I was when a child, which is saying quite a bit! As I see it, the time of child-rearing which has finally ended, and father-watching which will soon end, were static period of life, necessary but unfulfilling and, frankly, pointless. I’m glad to be done with that stuff, to be on my own. To seek a big life. An obedient life … obedient to God.
I have a bucket list, things I want to do. Some of these things are silly, others challenging or fun. Here’s one: I want to drag a sleeping bag onto the top of a tall building, crawl inside of it and watch the northern lights! Galileo, I think, was the first to call it the “aurora borealis” sometime in the seventeenth-century. In the past, every time I had an opportunity to see the northern lights, they were “out” or I was “out” — exhausted and sleeping.
This is a little thing, I know. It would be best to do with someone I enjoyed and who, like me, really wanted to see nature at it’s finest. Just thinking about this makes me smile …
I have big dreams, too, which I will not share. Some have to do with creating art and writing. Others with building a house. Still more have a social aspect, the idea of serving and truly loving others, including God. My social life is deficient now. Caring full-time for my father in a place I don’t belong has devastated me socially.
This bring me to another idea held by Christians which is this: the biggest — most satisfying and challenging — life will be the one God has chosen for me, that if I fearfully chart my own course, I’ll end up living a lesser life. I firmly believe this, but it’s still hard to jump. I have to truly believe that God will catch me after I jump and then put me on firm ground. I have to be willing to shut my eyes. Imagine being caught. Prayerfully asking for a faith I don’t have. So though I know (in my head) that the biggest life possible will be the one I get only if I let God lead me, still I struggle to let go and let God chart my course.
I want to be in charge! I want to decide what to make in this next stage of life. This is both natural and sinful, a consequence of weak character and faith which is not God’s will. It’s very difficult to know that a change is around the corner and not plan for it, but just let it happen. It’s difficult to jump without looking back to gauge the distance between me and the edge of the pool, just in case.
“Be strong, do not fear! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you.”
I pray, hope and am betting my life on the veracity of this verse, that it is true not only back then and for people unlike me, but now and for me.
Getting closer to the edge of the pool …